Even with the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, there were more than enough big headlines from the MLB to grab some air time this week. Let’s get to it!

Young Pitching Stars Go Down

It seems like UCL tears are almost becoming an epidemic around pitching rotations throughout the MLB, as 18 pitchers have now had to undergo the infamous Tommy John surgery to correct it.

Two of the more notable names that will be forced to have the surgery have actually both been injured in the past week, and both are young pitchers that carried a lot of the burden for their respective teams. The first, Martin Perez, was off to a pretty good start for the Texas Rangers; a team who has struggled to find any consistent pitching this year.

The other, and probably more devastating, was that of the Miami Marlins ace youngster Jose Fernandez. Fernandez, who finished 3rd in Cy Young voting last year despite being just 20 years old started this season off on a tear (no pun intended) and continued to establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.

These two injuries have brought out just how prevalent Tommy John has become in the majors. The fact that pitchers are throwing harder and throwing all year round is thought to be the culprit behind this, and that especially concerns me since there’s no real way to combat that. Unfortunately, I think young pitchers have to just expect that they’re going to have to undergo this surgery at one point or another. Are there any ways that this increased need of Tommy John surgery can be slowed down?

Hanley Ramirez Lays Out Contract Demands

As one of the biggest free agents on the market this offseason, Hanley Ramirez had to have been happy with how the free agents from this past offseason got paid. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo both received deals in excess of $130 million, and Robinson Cano hit the jackpot with his deal of over $200 million.

Out of all the hitters that will be on the open market, Ramirez clearly stands out among the rest. Players like Pablo Sandoval and Victor Martinez are both solid, but each present their own concerns that may weigh down the value of the contract that they ultimately receive.

It is also being reported that the Dodgers are not currently willing to meet the demands of Ramirez, who currently wants a contract similar to what Choo received at the very least. This surprised me, as I figured the Dodgers would spend any amount of money to retain him given that he’s one of the better players on the team.

After looking into it, though, I can’t really blame them for being hesitant. He’s currently 30 years old, so he probably only has a few more years of prime production ahead of him. On top of that, he’s also only played in 100 or more games in 1 of the last 3 seasons. Would you be willing to give Ramirez a 6-year, $130 million contract?

Tigers Get Hot

After being the laughingstock of the league throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s (and almost breaking the MLB record for losses in one season in 2003), the Detroit Tigers have regained some of the prestige that they had earned during their heyday in the 80’s.

They currently are the top team in the league as far as win percentage, and they’ve rattled off quite an impressive winning streak. They’ve done this with a combination of timely hitting and lock down pitching. The pitching, especially has stepped up this season, as they rank first in all of baseball in runs allowed.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers for Prince Fielder this offseason, has had a bit of a revival, and has helped with an issue the team was once crippled by: a lack of speed. Replacing Fielder in the cleanup spot was thought to be a tough task, but veteran Victor Martinez has been more than capable, and he’s shown more of a power stroke than he has at any point in his time in Detroit.

The starting pitching has been phenomenal, and that’s even without Anibal Sanchez for a couple of starts. Their bullpen may cause them some problems down the line, but so far I think it’s a safe bet that the Tigers are looking like the favorites to win it all this year. If the Tigers aren’t the current World Series favorites, which team is, and why?

This Week’s MVP: Yasiel Puig (.400/.483/1.000, 4 HR, 11 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Cole Hamels (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 20 K)

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Brian Rzeppa is an avid follower of the Cubs, and of Major League Baseball in general. You can find his various other sports-related work at Tru School Sports, and you can follow him on Twitter @brianrzeppa.